New Delhi: A global online chess platform has sought to end the controversy over a charity match played between former world chess champion Viswanathan Anand and Zerodha co-founder Nikhil Kamath, which the billionaire entrepreneur admittedly won through unfair means.
In a statement Tuesday, the chess community, which had earlier banned the account of Kamath, announced its decision to reopen it.
“Regarding the games played in the Vishy Anand simul for charity, as well as with full cooperation of Vishy Anand, Chess.com has elected to reopen all of the accounts in question during the event,” Chess.com-India said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“Given the forthcoming cooperation of the players and the clarification that not all the rules were properly understood, neither Chess.com nor Anand himself see any reason to uphold the matter further,” it said.
“While he clearly expressed that he does not endorse use of non-approved assistance in chess, he agrees fully that the games were played in good faith for the fun and good intentions of the charitable efforts, and wishes the matter be put to rest,” it added.
— Chess.com – India (@chesscom_in) June 15, 2021
The Indian chess grandmaster shared the statement on Twitter and said that it is time to “move on”.
It’s time to move on and get closure on this. https://t.co/9H4jk0Pj9Z
— Viswanathan Anand (@vishy64theking) June 15, 2021
What was the controversy?
The charity event called Checkmate Covid, was organised by Chess.com India, along with NGO Akshaya Patra Foundation. It featured various Indian celebrities, including Kamath, cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal and actor Aamir Khan, playing with Anand in 30-minute games Sunday to raise money for families during the pandemic.
The online stock brokerage firm Zerodha founder Nikhil had defeated Anand. Chess.com showed Kamath had played with an accuracy of 98.9 against Anand, while his three previous games on the same website showed his accuracy as 80.6, 56.5 and 29.8.
The billionaire later admitted that he had used external help to defeat Anand and tweeted that he had help from the people analysing the game, computers and “the graciousness of Anand sir himself to treat the game as a learning experience”.
He added, “It is ridiculous that so many are thinking that I really beat Vishy sir in a chess game, that is almost like me waking up and winning a 100m race with Usain Bolt… this was for fun and charity. In hindsight, it was quite silly as I didn’t realise all the confusion that can get caused due to this. Apologies.”
However, in response to this, Anand tweeted, “Yesterday was a celebrity simul for people to raise money. It was a fun experience upholding the ethics of the game. I just played the position on the board and expected the same from everyone.”
Chess.com had shut Kamath’s account for “violating our Fair Play Policy”, which covers cheating, getting help from any other person, using engines, software of any kind, bots, plug-ins or tools that analyse positions during play.
After Kamath admitted that he cheated, many on Twitter criticised the entrepreneur for using unfair means. Indian chess player Tania Sachdev responded, “Woke up to this. Complete disrespect to chess. Nothing justifies cheating…”
Woke up to this. Complete disrespect to chess. Nothing justifies cheating. Going back to sleep https://t.co/d8RCCst3TG
— Tania Sachdev (@TaniaSachdev) June 14, 2021
All India Chess Federation secretary Bharat Chauhan criticised Kamath. He told ANI: “We don’t expect anybody to get help from computers. At the national and state level, we are following the protocols. We are putting cameras where players are playing and there is a fair play committee which includes three GMs and two players”.
Sports producer Joy Bhattacharjya said, “What’s the point of making a billion dollars if one still needs external validation by using technical help in a charity chess match. That too playing one of India’s greatest”.
Technical help in a charity chess match! What's the point of making a billion dollars if one still needs external validation by using technical help in a charity chess match. That too playing one of India's greatest.https://t.co/EcYDZzLk9D
— Joy Bhattacharjya (@joybhattacharj) June 14, 2021